We’ve been hearing about virtual reality for a long time. Decades, in fact. And while there’s been much talk about it “changing the way we experience the world,” progression has been painfully gradual.
There are several factors that have slowed the technology’s progression – consumer adoption, developer interest, and general capabilities, to name a few. Today we seem to be overcoming some of these obstacles, and inching closer to the often-touted era of virtual reality.
More and more people are adopting the technology. This is due to a few factors:
- Major retailers sell economical headsets that are available on a wide scale.
- Companies like Samsung have sent thousands of headsets out free as promotional items.
- There are now more uses for the technology, as developers put forth innovative applications.
So how can virtual reality benefit society? Here are five ways:
As far as the headsets themselves, there is a wide price range. For more serious users, you can get a high quality headset for a few hundred dollars. On the other end of the spectrum, you can buy Google Cardboard, which costs a mere 10 to 15 bucks.
K-12 education has capitalized on the now affordable technology, buying headsets in bulk for educational purposes. How are educational institutions using VR in the classroom? Here are some examples:
Schools are using applications to give students virtual tours of the solar system.
Interactive applications help students learn graphs, vectors, and 3D geometry.
Multi-player VR experiences help teach students collaboration and team building.
The Arlington Science Focus School is even using VR to take students on virtual field trips to prominent destinations like the Smithsonian Museum.
eCommerce is an evolving beast, as competitors strive to stay ahead of the curve. Integrating virtual reality into online shopping will help consumers buy with greater confidence.
Not only can E-tailers demo individual products, they can build virtual stores or showrooms. The result is an experience not too far different from visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Currently, more than 70 percent of consumers abandon a website after adding a product to their shopping cart. Virtual reality may be the ticket to reducing this percentage.
Virtual reality offers some notable social benefits, particularly for those suffering from social disorders. In fact, VR is currently being used in clinical settings to help treat diagnosed social anxiety.
Common social situations that spur anxiety could include everything from making small talk with a stranger to delivering a speech in front of hundreds of people.
Simulating social experiences in virtual settings can help ease these anxieties with training and preparation. It teaches people effective ways to cope with the anxiety-laden situations they often dread.
The medical field has a host of high-stakes activities that can determine life and death. And while most procedures have been thoroughly practiced, each patient presents its own unique challenges.
Surgeons are now using virtual reality to prepare for high-risk procedures. For instance, applications have been created to assist surgeons in preparations for brain surgery by using MRI scans to display 3D models of a patient’s skull.
VR simulations are also better preparing medical students with more immersive education and training.
Over the past couple of years, virtual reality in architecture has gone from speculative to ubiquitous. Indeed, across the world architecture firms are now incorporating VR into their day-to-day practices.
If used correctly, this technology is an architect’s dream. It comes down to a simple principle: VR allows users to see three-dimensional models. It’s a tool that helps architects to not only present a project but also guide them through the design process.
VR transports architects into an immersive 3D environment where they can explore a virtual representation of a particular wall, room, or entire building design.
The overall success of virtual reality still hinges on a few things (continued adoption and development being the key factors).
But there’s an argument to be made that 2019 will be the banner year for this budding technology. As user numbers swell, so will revenues – and mainstream adoption begins feeling like a real reality.